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 Featured On This Week's Program

Animal Radio® for April 5, 2014  

14-Year-Old Pet Product Inventor
Brooke Martin, iCPooch

Brooke, Kayla and iCPoochBrooke Martin is only 14, but she sounds more intelligent than many adults. She also is the inventor of "iCPooch," a device that allows you to have visual contact between you and your dog using a tablet or mobile phone. It also dispenses treats. Brooke believes this is an answer to separation anxiety.

The IC Pooch allows you to video-chat with your dog and deliver a treat to them remotely. While you are away from home, whether you are at work or on vacation, you can go on your smartphone, tablet or computer and call up your dog with a two-way video-chat. This means you can see and hear your dog and he can see and hear you. Then, if you'd like, you can dispense a treat to your dog with a push of a button.

But can your dog truly see your picture on a screen or television? Brooke hears this question all of the time and states that, "There have been several studies that show dogs can see an LCD screen."

Brooke invented iCPooch as part of an 8th grade class project when she was 12 years old. Even though it is her first invention, she states that, "I've always been an entrepreneur at heart!" She was inspired by her wish to stay connected to her beloved Golden Retriever Kayla, and to alleviate Kayla's separation anxiety. Brooke is now able to give Kayla commands where she will sit or lay down and wait for a treat.

Brooks tell us that even when she is home, Kayla will go to the iCPooch and lay down, staring at it, waiting for a treat.

Brooke earned a spot as a top-10 finalist in the national Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge ( and ultimately the title of 1st runner up in "America's Top Young Scientist" competition. This is a challenge for kids grades 5 through 8. Kids all over the United States enter a one to two minute video, discussing an invention or idea they have. Brooke decided to enter, as she felt it would be a lot of fun.

Winning this competition allowed Brooke to work with a 3M Scientist over the summer, to help her test and develop her idea. Brooke also flew to St. Paul, Minnesota, to the 3M Innovation Center, where she competed with the 9 other finalists and took 2nd place.

iCPooch will start shipping in May. It will first be available through a variety of online retailers and then in retail stores.

Brooke is currently a freshman enrolled in the Institute of Science and Technology program at North Central High School in Spokane, Washington.

New Worm Threat To Cats
Araceli Lucio-Forster, Cornell University

Dracunculus Insignis WormImagine a 6-inch worm coming out of your cat's skin. Sounds like something out of the latest horror movie. Unfortunately, it's a real new worm that poses a threat to your cats. Parasitologist Araceli Lucio-Forster explains this new discovery.

Araceli Lucio-Forster studies parasites, their hosts and the relationship between them, at Cornell University. She spends most of her time teaching veterinarian students about parasites.

When Cornell University veterinarians found half-foot-long worms living in their feline patients, they had discovered something new.

However, the group of Dracunculus insignis worms is not new at all. It is also called the guinea worm, which affects people when they drink water that contains water fleas infected with guinea worm larvae. They are seen more frequently in Africa and South Asia. But since 1986, where the Carter Foundation started their eradication programs, it is much less prevalent.

Nevertheless, their sister worm which has now been found in cats, is the first time it has been seen in cats.

Dracunculus Insignis Worm Emerging From CatThese worms, which can grow to almost a foot long, actually have to come out of the skin. They form a blister-like protrusion in an extremity, such as a leg, from which they slowly emerge over the course of days to deposit their young into fresh water.
Those then turn into shrimp-like crustaceans, where they mature. If they do mature, and they are ingested by, for example, a raccoon, a cat or a human, then that host would become infected with the worm.

While the Dracunculus insignis worms are not fatal, the problem is that you have a worm, about a foot long, which can take a good amount of time to fully emerge from their host. They essentially create this open sore that can remain for quite some time.

You will normally not even know if your pet has this worm until it actually starts to emerge. They may have a bump, instead of a worm actually emerging, which can be surgically removed, as there is no medication to treat them.

My Bionic Pet
Jennifer Robinson, Westcoast Brace & Limb

Jennifer and JourneyAmputee Jennifer Robinson worked at a prosthetic manufacturer for many years. Now, she's showing off how artificial limbs are being used on dogs, cats, birds and even sea-life. She's a part of a new PBS series called My Bionic Pet.

Jennifer Robinson worked more than 10 years at Westcoast Brace & Limb, where she worked with "Journey the certified therapy dog"- who is part of the series MY BIONIC PET, which airs on Wednesday, April 9th at 8pm on PBS (check local listings). Viewers can also watch the full episode on the NATURE web site following the broadcast.

Jennifer Robinson is a congenital above knee amputee who has been wearing a prosthetic since she was two years old. The birth defect has shaped her life and inspired her to help others. For more than a decade, Robinson worked at Westcoast Brace & Limb in Tampa helping recent amputees adjust to life with a prosthetic. While their stories were all different and their devices were different, the one thing that connected them was their ability to adapt and move on.

Besides human patients, there were many non-human patients at Westcoast Brace & Limb. Animals that have met with misfortune, whether from a birth defect, accident, disease or even human cruelty, are now getting a second chance at life due to human intervention and technological advances. Left disabled without limbs, fins, flippers, beaks or tails, these creatures face a grim future, if one at all. But innovative prosthetics can change those survival odds if someone comes to their rescue.

My Bionic Pet SeriesOne such patient was a dog named Journey, a golden retriever born without his front left paw. Jennifer had a close bond with him and often worked with Journey, who is a certified therapy dog, helping amputees adjust to life with prosthetics. The dog has also become a favorite visitor to patients at St. Joseph's Children Hospital, as well as veterans and the elderly.

Why do we put prosthetics on animals? Do we do it for us, because we feel better if our pets wears them, or does it actually make a difference to our pets? Jennifer feels it is a little bit of both. But she does state that Journey would not wear his limb if it didn't help him.

Journey wears his artificial limb every day, which makes it easy for him to get around. When it is taken off at night, Journey will sniff the prosthesis and lick and clean it.

Jennifer states that Darwinism is the survival of the fittest, but she feels it should be called "Survival of the creatures that can adapt the best!"

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET for PBS. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. My Bionic Pet is a production of Pangolin Pictures and THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET.

Buzzfeed Beastmaster
Jack Shepherd, Buzzfeed

Jack ShepherdWhat the heck is a Beastmaster? Jack Shepard is a self-proclaimed Beastmaster at the Buzzfeed website. He gets paid to surf "animal related" fodder and make it go viral on the incredibly popular website.

Jack Shepherd is the original Beastmaster at Buzzfeed (the fourteenth most read site on the Internet). So what is a Beastmaster? Beastmaster is actually a reference to a cult 80's movie. So when Jack needed a title, he liked the name and decided to call himself one. Now, Beastmasters are the guys who make those lists of animal pictures that clutter your twitter feed.

Do you like animals? Do you think they're the cutest things the Internet ever invented? Could you spend all your waking hours watching cat videos or, even better, working with a team of like-minded connoisseurs to determine which is objectively cuter—clips of a tiny jungle cat or of an impossibly adorable, very pettable wild hippo? Then there is a job out there for you—an actual paid profession created by and for the digital age. And there is a name for it, too. A pretty cool one, actually: You could be known as a Beastmaster.

Currently, there are three Beastmasters at Buzzfeed who do animal stuff. People on the Internet really seem to love animals, and particularly cats. The animal Beastmasters look for things that are uplifting and fun. Their motto is powered by cute.

67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than DogsThe Beastmasters spend their days going through not only videos, but also pictures and stories about animals. Animals play such a big role in people's lives, and there is so much out there, Jack tells us that it is hard to sift through the stuff that is actually going to be interesting to a wide range of people.

While they go for the cute side of animals, they also try to keep it funny and interesting. Jack states that on the Internet, for some reason, people love sharing videos about cats in particular. Jack has been trying to figure out why this is so. His theory is that a dog is trying too hard and cats don't care if they impress you!

Look for Jack's new book coming out later this year: 67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs.

Joey VillaniThe Dogfather's Grooming Tip with Joey Villani

Do You Need To Groom Your Cat?
If you have a cat that has a tangled coat and it doesn't keep itself clean, should you step in and groom it?

If you have a longhaired cat that gets matted or a shorthaired cat that has an abundance of undercoat, it can overwhelm the cat's system. Once they get over-knotted or too much undercoat, they will stop grooming themselves, and will need assistance.

We domesticated cats year ago and designed their coats to be the way we wanted them to be. Some were designed for working purposes, while others are just for cosmetic purposes. Sometimes they just need a little bit of assistance.

So does your cat need to be washed? Soap and water is a good thing, but for the most part, a cat is very hygienic animal that keeps itself clean. But once they get over-knotted or too much undercoat, they need your help. If you just brushed and combed your cat, kept it tangle free and kept the shedding down, for the most part, a healthy cat is going to clean itself, because of its instinct.

If your cat is healthy, for example is he moving right, does he still have a spark in his eyes and acting normal, but still has a dull coat? If you said yes, then he probably just needs a little bit of help.

Cat In BucketIf you want to bathe a cat, get two medium sized trashcans about kitchen size (approximately 4 gallons). Fill them with warm water – not hot (about 3/4 full). In one, add about 1/4 cup of white vinegar and put it off to the side. In the other trashcan, add about 1 cup of your favorite pet shampoo. When you have done this, grab your cat by the scruff with one hand and their back feet with your other hand and gently dunk them in the one with shampoo, leaving their head above water. Believe it or not, cats usually do not mind being submerged and some actually like it, as it is the actual sound of running water that frightens them. You can then scrub them. If you have fleas, a great way to help get them off your pet is to do this with a medicated flea shampoo.

Once they have been scrubbed, take them out and put them in the trashcan with the white vinegar. This will remove any remaining shampoo. When you take them out, run a comb through them before towel drying. If you have a cat with long hair, this will remove any knots or tangles. If your cat has short hair, this will help to remove any hair that become loose during the bath. When you have combed them, you can then towel dry your cat.

If you don't want to put them in a tub, you can purchase wipes which are readily available and work really well. Then just brush and comb then and you shouldn't have any problems.

But if you think your cat is sick, please take them to your veterinarian before doing any type of maintenance to their coat.

Animal Radio® News with Tammy Trujillo

Tibetan MastiffDogs – Priceless!
Most of us consider our pets as priceless, but if you had to put a price on your dog, would it be $2 million? That's how much a Tibetan Mastiff puppy just sold for in China. The one-year-old 200-pounder was purchased by a property developer at what's called a ‘luxury pet' fair. Tibetan Mastiffs have become a prized status symbol among wealthy Chinese and that has sent prices rocketing. One industry insider though says that breeders may be conspiring to push the dogs' prices up. If you've never seen a Tibetan Mastiff they are enormous and have thick, round manes that make them resemble big lions. Behavior wise, they are fiercely loyal to their people and very protective.

The Smaller, The Better
If you have a cat at home, you know what happens if you set an empty box on the floor. That's right, your cat immediately gets in it, no matter how big it is or isn't. There actually are some pretty smart reasons; smaller places are safer, especially when you're sleeping; cats like to be warm and smaller spots are cozier; since domestic cats are descendants of wild cats, they still instinctively select places that are easier to defend; and the smaller the spot, the easier it is to fend off intruders.

Calico CatCalico Cats Might Be Able To Help Cure Obesity
It all has to do with their coloring. A calico cat has an orange fur color gene on one of their X-chromosomes and a black fur color gene on one of their other. Somehow, the random turning off of one of those X's in each cell is responsible for their multi-color coats. Now scientists are trying to determine how many kinds of genes can be turned off or on without changing the underlying DNA sequence. Body fat distribution is also associated with X-chromosomes, so there is a possibility that regulating this structure might help control inherited tendencies toward being overweight.

OcelotSpecial Kitten Generates Excitement
There's a kitten generating a lot of excitement in Texas. A remote camera captured an image of an ocelot kitten in a South Texas wildlife refuge. Federal wildlife biologist Hilary Swarts says she and her colleagues were jumping up and down and screaming. There are fewer than 50 ocelots in the wild in the U.S. Swarts tells the San Antonio Express-News it's believed the kitten is female, which will add to the breeding stock.

What Kind Of Pet You Have Apparently Says A Lot About You sponsored an online survey looking for a connection between a person's pet and that person's profession, annual salary and level of job satisfaction. Among some of the results; CEO's are primarily dog owners; snake and reptile owners are among the highest paid workers, earning six-figure salaries; people who like their jobs generally have a bird at home; doctors, lab techs, personal caregivers and realtors tend to have cats as pets; and fish usually belonged to people working in the financial field or the hotel and leisure industries.

Dog Chasing TailDoes Your Dog Have A Serious Tail-Chasing Session?
Some dogs have a real fascination with their tails, which might not be anything to worry about. But then again, it might. Most of the time, it's simply your dog enjoying some exercise in a very pet-centric way. But if they keep on doing it, vets say it could also be a sign of an anal gland problem, flea allergic dermatitis or other medical issues. And in some dogs, it could actually be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). You can check to see if it is, by noting whether you can distract your dog from a serious tail-chasing session. This could also have huge implications for people. Researchers have zeroed in on four genes that are connected to OCD in dogs. Now, if the same genes are found to be malfunctioning in the human version of the disorder, and some studies seem to indicate that they are, this could eventually lead scientists to develop better drugs to deal with the disorder.

Mark Slater With DogBaseball Player's Dog Banned From City
Baseball season is underway and this is Mark Buehrle's first season pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was traded in the off-season from the Florida Marlins. He has four dogs, which include a bulldog and an American Staffordshire Terrier mix or a Pit Bull mix. Ontario has a province-wide ban on Pit Bulls and dogs who have a lineage of the Pit Bull. So Mark's family had a hard decision to make. Either live in the states (like Buffalo) and commute to Toronto, or leave their dog with friends. What did they end up doing? Mark's wife and two children will live away from him during the baseball season, so that they can care for their dogs. Ontario passed its Pit Bull ban in 2005. It was appealed in 2008, but stood. In 2010, the Toronto Humane Society said it had data to show the ban had not made a major difference in the number of reported dog bites.

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